"Value-added" is kind of a strange small farming term, and can be confusing and clinical-sounding at first glance. All it really means? That rather than selling the raw products of your farm, you take those products and make them into something with added value - something that you can charge more for. For example, selling fresh raw milk is great, and can be part of your business plan. But what if you made that milk into artisanal cheese? Now instead of selling it at milk prices, you're selling it at high-end cheese prices. Now, you need to do the math: certainly you also put effort, time, equipment and expertise in to making a value-added product like cheese. But often, small farmers find that it is more than worth it to produce and market value-added products, either instead of or in addition to their other farm products.
Learn about how to get started with a value-added farm business, some tips for your business as you get underway, and also get some great ideas for what to produce, as the options are many.
Winter's settling over us. Here in Vermont we already have snow. Wherever you live, I'm sure you're winding down from fall activities, and finding yourself with a little bit more time on your hands now that the main season is through.
It's the perfect time to read more! Learn about the things you want to tackle next season. Explore a new approach, technique or species. I've recently reviewed some great small farming books so take a look and see if one strikes your fancy.
It's nearly Thanksgiving, and although it's of course too late to start raising turkeys for this year, many small farmers are getting ready to process their turkeys for this season, perhaps selling them directly to consumers, or through farmers markets or CSAs.
If you already have turkeys and are getting ready for slaughter, check out the information I've compiled that will help you through that process efficiently and humanely. If you are interested in learning more about raising turkeys for next season, read up - it's the perfect time to make plans for next year.
Perhaps you've just heard the term permaculture. Maybe you know a little about what it is but are curious to know more. Or, perhaps you're already committed to permaculture practices and principles for your small farm, homestead or hobby farm.
Whichever of these it is, I hope this introduction to permaculture is useful to you as you learn more.
Holiday season is suddenly upon us! Use up all the goodies you've grown and preserved through the year with some great ideas for the holidays. Serve these at parties, or prepare as value-added products for your winter CSA or farmers market.
As colder weather settles in, you may find yourself thinking ahead to next season. What do you want to accomplish? How do you decide what to get done in one season, and what goes on the longer-term list?
Check out my tips for longer-range planning and use them to get your gears turning.
Even as temperatures drop, it's not too late to plan and plant winter crops! Especially if you have some season-extending methods and infrastructure in place. But don't delay! As the days grow shorter, plants enter a dormant phase, and it can be tough to get started if you miss the window - or, you'll just have to be extra patient, as it will take quite a bit longer for the plants to get to a harvestable size.
Getting your farm equipment ready for winter needn't be confusing or time-consuming. But it is a necessary farm chore that will make spring go that much more smoothly. Learn how to properly put your equipment away for the winter so that your small farm is well cared for.
Storing your precious bounty, and continuing to sell it through a CSA even after farmers markets have shuttered for the season, can be a challenge. Moldy pumpkins, rotten apples, shriveled squash - who needs it? Learn how to store properly so that you don't waste precious food - food that can become cash if you're a business owner.
So many things to do before winter sets in! I'm feeling a bit manic about it; are you?
Don't get overwhelmed. Pick one task per day if you're a full-time farmer, or one per weekend if you're a part-time hobby farmer or homesteader. Get that laser-like focus on and get it done. It feels really good! Start small if you need to.
And check out these guides to fall and winter tasks: planning for fall harvests, saving seed, and storing harvested veggies properly.